The Role of Yin Yoga in Opening Your Fascia
A lot of us suffer from decreased range of movement and physical limitations in our bodies. However, we don’t realize this until we experience a chronic injury. Yin yoga can help prevent restrictions that occur as a result of the binding of tissues, such as muscles and fascia.
But What Really is Fascia?
Fascia is a fibrous tissue that connects every cell in the body. It forms an extracellular, 3D web that holds us together and penetrates and surrounds body tissues, including muscles, muscle fiber, blood vessels, bones, nerves, organ tissue and so on. Fascia is also directly involved with numerous systems in your body, such as the neurological and muscular systems.
Perhaps the best analogy for fascia is the segments of an orange. Each segment of an orange is divided by a clear, fibrous tissue. Within each segment, the pulp or juice is further divided with the same type of tissue. Fascia works the same way in our bodies. While there are several of segments within our bodies, they are deeply connected by connective tissue, or fascia.
Fascia is primarily made of the following:
- Elastin fibers, which allow changes in the body
- Collagen fibers, which are incredibly tough and provide strength and support
- Ground substance, which is fluid and gelatinous when healthy and allows muscles and organs to glide over one another, preventing any friction between them.
How Yin Yoga Comes into Play
Your fascia requires at least 120 seconds of continued pressure to exhibit change. This is where yin yoga comes in. Yin yoga involves extended pose holds which help lengthen your fascia and improve its overall health.
What Does Healthy Fascia Look Like?
Healthy fascia is strong, springy and fluid. When you walk or run, your fascia will return the force you apply to you, making you feel lighter. You’ll require less energy to perform your daily functions, allowing your muscles to work with greater efficiency. Having healthy fascia will make you feel stronger and more flexible.
However, the converse is also true. Not incorporating sufficient movement into your lifestyle or having a sedentary job can leave your fascia in a shortened, rigid state which can be difficult to reverse. Fascia is much tighter than our muscle fibers, which have a significant level of plasticity and can undergo changes in length fairly quickly. Although this is beneficial for stabilization, problems can occur when fascia is forced into an unnaturally tight state due to certain lifestyle factors.
Sitting for prolonged periods, typically in hunched positions, is notorious for causing pain, tension and tightness of lower back, shoulders, neck and hips. Not exercising your connective tissue regularly can cause this problem to worsen over time, ultimately resulting in morphological changes, such as hunch back or frozen shoulder.
Why You Should Perform Yin Yoga
Your fascia is primarily composed of cells called fibroblasts. Fibroblasts are not controlled by the brain. Instead, their behavior is mostly determined by the amount of load placed on them.
In Yin Yoga, you are mainly focused on the effects of tensile loads on your tissues. That feeling you get in your lower back when you get into seal pose occurs from a range of compressive forces placed on your vertebrae and soft tissue. As you fold forward, you are stretching your back.
According to a 2005 research, when you stretch and hold a pose for a significant amount of time, the fibroblasts in your fascia will modify the production of elastin fibers, collagen fibers and ground substance, creating a foundation that better suits the demands placed on them.
Furthermore, another research published in the Journal of Anatomy, found that fibroblasts in ligaments and tendons adapt to tensile forces by creating strong and fibrous collagen that can tolerate the added load.
This shows that opening your fascia via Yin Yoga does not only boost your range of motion and flexibility, it also helps strengthen your muscles and maintain its length. This helps reduce soreness, improve blood circulation to muscle and connective tissue and enhance lymph movement.